Mary Brinkley, who heads the Oklahoma Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, says that many legislators "don’t even know what adult day service is.” A few have gotten the message. State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, is working to increase the daily reimbursement rate given to adult day centers. Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, called adult day services "the best bargain around” and said they need to receive added attention.
Michael Avila’s story is one example of the work done at day centers. Avila, 38, has mental retardation and cerebral palsy. He takes a bus from his home in Midwest City, where he lives with his mother, to a center in Oklahoma City that provides the sort of social interaction he needs. Budget woes may force the center to close. If that happens, its director estimates, 70 percent of the clients could wind up in nursing homes.
Brinkley says adult day centers make sense all around — family care givers can keep their day jobs, the person using the center benefits and the state saves money. "If we don’t find a solution to this problem we’re gonna be turning people away who really have no other options,” she said. "And who wants that on their conscience?”
It’s one of the many tough issues facing lawmakers during this very difficult time.